Monday, December 04, 2006

I think I am getting there......

Well things have moved on a little further despite the rain. It seems that all it has done for the past few weeks is rain. Still things are moving in the right direction.

3-4 weeks ago I got some black matting and this has been laid across all of the raised beds to prevent any grass and weed growth. It seems to be doing the trick. So far I have 4 raised beds; 3 are still covered but the other has now been planted out with:
Red Garlic - I have been told that Garlic is the easiet thing to grow - last year I did grow some in the garden but it wasn't very productive. Hopefully this year will be more successful.
Onions - I have planted some winter onions - these are a hardy variety that need to be planted before Xmas and will be ready next June. Again I struggled growing onions in the back garden - so I will have to wait and see what happens.
I have left some space for some Shallots that will be planted in the New Year.

Fianlly I have moved 6 rhubarb crowns into one end of the raised bed.
I will be keeping a close eye on this uncovered raised bed to see if I have got rid of all the weeds.

Over the next month/Christmas I have the following jobs to do:
Build 2 more raised beds
Dig over the other beds (5 to go)
Weed in between the beds
Apart from that then I have got all my seeds ready and I just need to finish off my sowing/planting schedule.

Also I will aim to get a few pics on here very soon.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Building raised beds

Being the type of person who likes things neatly organised and in a logical order, I have decided to build raised beds on the allotment.

People have different views on raised beds, some people think they are a waste of space, some feel they create more work, some say they drain too quickly and others think they just make the allotment nicer.

I prefer raised beds for a few reasons, but mainly they help you to organise your planting and therefore help your crop rotation.

Last summer I experimented with a couple of raised beds in the back garden (see the picture) and I found they helped me (the complete beginner) to control the planting and helped keep me orgainsed.

Therefore I decided to build raised beds on my allotment – so far I have built 4, and may squeeze in another 2.

They are really quite straightforward to build – the ones in the garden were built from rough cut timber I bought from a local timber merchants. But the ones at the allotment I have built from old pallets. As with everything once you have done something you start to spot things that you could recycle or re-use etc. If you get pallets then you will have to break them down which can take a bit longer but it is free!

Basically my mate Lukerman emailed me some simple instructions to build the raised beds and I just followed these. This is what he said

4-6' high beds usually enough unless you're disabled - any higher and they drain too quickly

Best to use rough sawn treated timber boards 150 x 25 (or better 32mm) in lengths as required. And make the beds 1.5m wide so you reach the middle from both sides

Secure boards with 600x50x50mm timber pegs and galvanised nails every 1-2 metres. All this should be available from any good fencing/builders merchant (cheap as chips).

Sleepers probably an overkill - new ones expensive, old ones full of creosote which is carcinogenic

To get the extra soil without getting extra stuff brought in dig out 4" deep topsoil from between beds and work in 4" of well rotted pooh every year and it'll look after itself.

Dig Dig Dig........

It has been an interesting couple of months on the allotment; work ground to halt in early September as I had a knee operation but things seem to be coming along. At my last post in August I managed to get a few seeds into the ground and we had a small crop of turnips and lettuce.

However, the area of ground I had prepared in the summer turned into a lawn of grass in about a week. So you can imagine what that felt like! I have to say it was bloody depressing as I have spent quite a bit of time on it in the summer. However I did have one small consolation in that someone else took over a similar plot to me about 3 plots up and they did exactly the same as me and they have the same problem. So I decided to ask some of my neighbours about what to do and I got a few suggestions/comments:

One chap said just rotivate it and see what happens.

Another said they had a similar problem and they rotivated it and the grass came back.

And another told me that I had to weed the whole patch - and that there was no short cut. So I have let the grass grow to about 6 inches, I fork it up, grab the grass, shake the soil out and dump the grass and roots in the compost bin! And I have to keep doing this across the whole patch.

Digging the whole patch like this is a lot of work and I wanted to make sure it would work. So I ran a couple of sample patches and left it for a few weeks and lo and behold no grass grew back - my neighbour also said that the best time to dig was in late Oct and Nov and to forget it in the summer. So I am now in the process of digging half of the allotment. It is actually quite hard work and after about 2 hours you really have had enough.

I have also decided to try a different approach on another part of the allotment - on this part I have put down some Roundup and sheeted it with black matting - I have been told that the combination of the weed killer and matting should do the trick - well, we'll have to wait and see.

From what I have picked up then there is no short cut and it is all preparing the ground and trying to stop on top of the weeds.

Still there is no great rush to have it all ready right now as there is little you can plant at the moment.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

At last some seeds are in!!!!

As you can see from the pictures the allotment looks a lot different from how it did in June. Sometimes I have felt like I have not been getting anywhere but having seen the photos the place does look a lot different.

After some further digging I have been able to sow a few seeds in the hope they can be harvested before winter sets in. I have planted beetroot, carrots, turnips, spinach and some mixed lettuce. I have also transplanted my strawberry plants form the back garden along with 18 strawberry plants I got from the local garden centre for £1.47 - bargain. I would have planted some winter potatoes but the useless supplier - has so far taken 2 weeks to post them - how difficult can it be!

Over the next few months I will dig up the remainder of the allotment in 1 yard strips; this way you can see progress and not get too disheartened. Once I have dug each strip over I will cover it with black plastic in readiness for spring. I am currently using blue sheets and these are not ideal as they do let some light through and hence weeds can grown underneath.

I also need to tackle the small problem of a wasp's nest that is in the middle of the allotment. I did have a good go at drowning the buggers and filling in the the holes so hopefully that may have done the trick!

Also you will see that there are 3 yellow seats on the allotment - these are in fact part of the subs bench from Wigan Athletic's old ground Springfield Park!

Friday, July 28, 2006

2 steps forward and 3 steps back.....

...well that's what it feels like... the past few weeks have been hard work on the allotment mainly due to the weather and the fact that I am also ripping out a kitchen at home!!!! (Still I need to crack on as the football and rugby season is nearly upon me!)

But still I think things have progressed. Since my last post I have borrowed the next door neighbour's petrol strimmer and cut back the 6 foot high grass/weeds. And I have put weedkiller on 3/4s of the allotment - I used Roundup as this was recommended by other Allotmenteers!

On the other quarter I have started to dig this over in the hope that I can get a few seeds in the ground before summer is over. I have ordered a few seeds/tubers and fingers crossed me and wifey should be tucking into a few veggies before December.

The highlight so far has been that I have inherited a couple of fruit bushes so we have already had a bumper crop of red and blackcurrants.

Over the next couple of weeks I am planning to slowly dig another quarter of the allotment, but insetad of planting in this I am going to sheet this over and start to plan for next spring...........

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Hut is clear

Well I have made a start and have cleared in and round the hut and dumped most of the contents in a skip. The tools which the previous owner left are now in the shared group shed.

I had planned to start strimming the weeds but unfortuately I had a problem with the strimmer - so this will have to be saved for next week!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Where shall I start!!!!

God knows!!! after a bit of head scratching it finally all sinks in how much work I have to do before I can plant a single crop. Though not to be deterred I have come up with a plan.

Stage 1 is to clear the contents of the 'hut' and chuck all unwanted items in the skip! This includes bits of carpet and a few bags of old plaster.

Stage 2 is to strimmer the whole patch using a petrol strimmer (no electricity on this allotment!), scrape up all the mess and put it on the compost heap. This alone will take a few hours.

My plot is 10 pole and is the standard allotment size plot, for those who don't know what a pole measurement is - 1 acre is made up of 160 Poles so you get about 16 allotments in an acre.

For those who don't know what an acre is - 1 acre is 43, 560 square feet and is a piece of land that is 209 feet square/70 yards square. So a 10 pole allotment is 70x70/16 = 306 square yards which is about 1/30 of the size of a football pitch. Bet that helps!

Monday, June 12, 2006

The wait is over!!!!

After a 2 month wait I have been given the option on an Allotment in Henley-on-Thames.

I am a novice to allotments, but for the past 6 months I have been growing a few veg in my back garden, but as I was slowly taking over the garden, the wife suggested that I get an allotment!!!! Maybe she just wants to get rid of me!

In this blog I will try to describe what I have been doing in lingo that a novice gardener can understand!